Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Samples of the Kenyan liturgy

The traditional melodies used in the Kenyan settings of the liturgy are lovely. They have a churchly sound. They’re straightforward and easy to sing, but not frivolous or trivial. They’ve grown on me as I’ve listened to them and written them down, and there’s something about them that sounds liturgical.

As I mentioned, these tunes are oral tradition. However , the other day I was singing through a collection of African hymns (Tumshangilie Mungu) transcribed and compiled in the 1960’s and 70’s by Howard Olson, a Lutheran theologian, missionary, linguist, and musician. Much to my surprise and delight, I came across a piece that is nearly identical to the Agnus Dei in the Divine Service! It has some minor differences, as one would expect, but considering that this version was written some 40 years ago, in Tanzania, it’s remarkably similar.

Clicking on the title of this post will take you to three brief recordings by Pr. Omolo and myself - the Kyrie Eleison and Agnus Dei from the Divine Service, and the Opening Versicles from Matins.


  1. Very nice. Thank you for your good work!

    One note: on the "Vespers" opening versicles recording (as titled), it sounds like he says "Matins opening versicles" at the beginning. I cannot tell which one it is of course. :D

  2. Huh - I did put the opening versicles from Matins there. Thanks for pointing that out, Matt!